The Life and Times
Part 3: Rhymes and Reasons
"To expostulate why day is day, night night, and time is time,
After lunch Phoebe later took Melinda an Whosit to the park at the bottom of Prescott Street.
Paige and Piper cleared up after lunch. It had not been a happy meal because Melinda had spent the whole meal chattering about next door's new kitten, and Phoebe and Piper had hastily interrupted every time Paige started to suggest getting Melinda a kitten.
unloaded the dishwasher while Piper folded the washing, not as carefully as she
used to because she knew Musha and her brownie friends would fix it up anyway.
just don't understand why you are so down on having an animals in the house" Paige sighed."And don't tell me its because you don't like animals,
because I happen to know you love them."
not having an animal " Piper insisted folding washing. She shook her head
thinking about last night and the creature she had exchanged with, a boy who
spent his life in the jungles and forests, making false tracks and trails to
confuse hunters and others who would harm the creatures who live there. As a
Curupira Piper had spent a very happy night leading hunters in circles, making
them fire at their own shadows, fall over logs and in one memorable instance led one to fall over a sleeping bear, which had the effect of making him drop
his gun and run screaming into the night.
course I love animals " Piper told Paige firmly "And we're not getting
wants one badly" said Paige.
for her own good we're not " said Piper firmly " And I am not
discussing it any more " she said in her mother knows best voice.
made a grinding noise with her teeth.
not the dish washer broken?" asked Piper concerned
Phoebe walked down Prescott street with Patsy in a pusher and Melinda holding her hand. Melinda refused get in the pusher, until she was tired, coming home.
"Uphill on the way back" thought Phoebe. Cole usually pushed uphill when they went for a walk. She thought it served Cole right that he had run off to hide from temptation at his office and missed the time with his children, especially seeing she wasn't in a mood to seduce him and wasn't pregnant.
"Daddy" a scaredy cat " she told Patsy.
"Whose a scaredy cat?" demanded Melinda.
"Uncle Cole" said Phoebe.
"I want a cat" said Melinda longingly eying the big ginger Persian lazing itself in the sun four houses down from the manor. Phoebe swallowed guiltily.
They went to the park, after walking down Prescott Street and Phoebe did not enjoy snooping on the neighbours' gardens half as much as she did when Cole was walking beside her. She played with the children sitting on the whirly holding Whosit and pushed Melinda on the swing and stopped her using magic to make it go higher. She talked to two mother's and played chasey with both of children, and Melinda's four year old friend who lived half way down Prescott Street before packing them up to walk up the hill. Melinda was more than happy to sit in the pusher this time.
"I wish Daddy was here" said Phoebe puffing half way up the hill. "Its not co-dependence to miss being with some-one you love" she told the children.
Melinda put he head on the side, very like her mother.
"Miss Uncle Cole " Phoebe explained.
"Unca Cole " said Melinda looking around hopefully.
Phoebe was half way up Prescott street hill and really missing Cole, when she jumped mightily as Arturo said "Hello Phoebe" behind her.
"Oh" she said.
"I was about to materialise outside the manor when I saw you " he explained.
"Not in it" she asked.
"Not at he moment." Arturo answered cryptically. " I want to see Belthezor."
"He's at his office" Phoebe told him.
" On his way back" Arturo told her "Until the eclipse is over. I feel more comfortable in a magic nexus or its vicinity " he said.
"Why is Cole getting crossed if the nexus protects Guardians?" asked Phoebe.
"It doesn't" replied Arturo taking the pusher from her, with no resistance on her part whatsoever. "Its me who can utilise it the power of it. Who's he crossing with?" asked Arturo. "Friend Therold collects such ..trivia." he explained.
"Why?" asked Phoebe.
"It interests him" smiled Arturo urbanely.
"Shadows crossing with him " said Phoebe " both of us. Can you really stop the eclipse?"
Arturo smiled .
"I forget how powerful you are " Phoebe said .
"Thank you my dear" Arturo said." That's is the nicest compliment I have had in several centuries."
"Cole hasn't met Therold," Phoebe told Arturo.
"He will soon." Arturo said dryly "Forgive me " he asked.
"Forgive you what ," Phoebe asked curiously.
"You'll find out" sighed Arturo.
Phoebe looked at him coyly, then she stopped for a second "I'll forgive me if you tell me something?" she asked.
"If I can" he smiled.
"My sisters in this eclipse are exchanging. Piper is exchanging with all these odd magic creatures. Its like she is being throw out of our little domestic magic, our realm magic to find all the small realms and fairytale creatures. Good magic, not powerful magic. The creatures exchanging it are not as powerful as she is but she say it makes her feel really magical, that magic is not ..not toil and effort but…magical.
"Good for Piper " said Arturo "I wish I had her pleasure in it,"
"Paige is using music she found a way to do it " said Phoebe "To exchange with legendary mythical creatures, creatures outside this realms."
"Your sisters are very lucky," Arturo told her.
"Why aren't I?" she asked quietly.
Arturo stopped pushing the stroller. "I assume " he said "Your vision of magic is not in the other realms" he said " your connection to magic is not their connection to magic. Have you exchanged at all?" he asked.
"I exchanged with Francesca" Phoebe confessed. "When Hilma passed on."
Arturo stared at her " I'm surprised you have any faith in my judgement if you saw that" he remarked.
"I … there was something reassuring to know your …wisdom is… hard learnt" Phoebe told him in a whisper. "I saw Cole in the future" she said "So I guess he makes it as guardian. So I guess you solve how to keep the powers of good self destructing over him."
"Hopefully that ha been avoided" said Arturo "that is what I came to discuss with him."
"Good " said Phoebe" Elders are getting pretty freaky about him, with this damned warlock using his name."
"That is not precisely what I want to hear " said Arturo " I was hoping to use legend and myth to obscure truth. I take it they are more interested in the real demon "
Phoebe nodded as Arturo winced slightly "Well I guess if any-one has the power to fix it you have" she said.
"My great difficulty has always been having the power to do things I must not," smiled Arturo urbanely
Phoebe started walking "Is everything ..after, are you ..all right '..she asked. "I mean its not like you actually killed the little shit retriever."
"You comfort me," Arturo smiled. "I hoped in the eclipse or near it..... Last time" he explained "Near the eclipse there were many changes with guardians. Esther went and Proctor came a few years before, in 1492 I recall. Therold came when Zanda moved on in 1497, and Hilma was called just after when Evald, passed over but you know about that. Only Durand and I remained .....for our sins." he said with cynical humour.
"Do Therold and Proctor want to move on as much as you? " Phoebe asked.
"I doubt anything would make Therold leave his cats" Arturo replied dryly.
Phoebe accepted what he chose not to answer. "Was it as bad when they crossed?" she asked "I mean the way you a re having to hide Cole from Good and Evil."
"This has been the most difficult " Arturo told her frankly. "Belthezor shares some problems I had. When Proctor and the others crossed, even Hilma and after Belthezor she was the highest ranked demon of us all," and Phoebe caught her breath which Arturo noticed. "They were demons hidden in the hierarchy of demondom, they were in their own way very powerful demons, and their crossing was a shock to demondom. However their skills were hidden from good. Just, soldiers, and lore masters watchers and foot soldiers, lower level advisors and minions of evil."
Phoebe shook her head uncertain. "I don't understand," she said.
"They were simply demons who if you vanquished them would have been nameless vanquish fodder to you"Arturo explained. "Just another nameless faceless shapeless minion."
"Oh" said Phoebe
"This was not the case with me"Arturo told her " they created a legend about me and when I crossed it imploded on Good."
"Francesca told me that the real story of your crossing did Good no credit, " Phoebe told him.
'"No" agreed Arturo, "I do not wish it repeated. But hopefully I have implanted enough confusion with the Powers that be to deflect the worst of the damage and they can direct their minions away from serious complications."
Phoebe nodded " Only " she said.
"Only what my dear? " asked Arturo dryly.
"Speaking as a minion of Good " she said " we don't always do as we are directed."
"Good has much to learn from evil " said Arturo who had once been a mighty demon.
When they turned into the manor, Arturo with a somewhat bemused expression helped Phoebe lift the pusher, as one of the neighbours waved.
Phoebe glanced down the street to see if Cole's car was there "Cole isn't back" Phoebe told him,. " come on in and wait."
'"Certainly my dear "Arturo agreed as she pushed open the manor door and pursed her lips as she walked on another conference between whitelighters and Rodik and Paige and Piper. Phoebe caught her breath as she realised once again the whitelighters had chosen to meet with her sisters in her absence. Angela in jeans and a bulky sweater and. Not-Casper in mortal disguise of a clerkish middle aged man.
She just caught Paige somewhat exasperatedly saying "You're fixated on Belthezor. Its Willem we're after remember. Warlock king, stealer of witch and demonic powers."
"The Elders." Angela explained carefully "Think Belthezor is the key to solving the problems with Willem. And if we can find out why he connects you to the demon" she pleaded with her eyes and Piper remembered that Leo had asked her to trust him about Belthezor and Angela had agreed."
"And" added Not-Casper primly "They think the reason you have not been able to get Willem is because of some connection the Charmed Ones have to Belthezor."
Rodik suddenly spied Phoebe at the door with the two children and Arturo. He sucked his breath and then let it out with a wheeze as he recognised Arturo.
"Youuuuuuuuuuuu" he screeched jumping so a whitelighter and Piper were between him and Arturo.
Phoebe glared him. "I'm sorry" she told Arturo " that is a very rude house guest, we have."
"I understand my dear, " said Arturo blandly "All you can do with wind is let it blow itself out "
"That's Belthezor " screamed Rodik " that's the demon Belthezor, vanquish him, a vanquish him" he yelled hauling a somewhat startled Paige in front of him. " Look out, the warlock Willem will be close. Behind."
Arturo unable to help himself glanced behind and to Piper's joy was startled to see Cole standing there an amused smile on his face that was only a step from demonic.
"Arturo is a family friend, " Phoebe hissed between her teeth.
"Whore " screamed Rodik "Demon."
Arturo an annoyed expression moved a hand slightly and Cole reached out to touch his shoulder.
Not-Casper and Angela uncomfortably swallowed and glared at Rodik while Paige and Piper exchanged glances.
"He's friend of the family and a business acquaintance of mine " Cole told the whitelighters quietly and something in the tone of his voice made both nod.
"You came to see me " Cole asked as Arturo nodded "Come outside and leave the family to its ahh business " he suggested while Phoebe sent Rodik a glare that should have vanquished him.
"He's a damned demon" screamed Rodik as Cole slammed the door shut "Angela." he insisted " Do something," he ordered.
"If the family say he is a business acquaintance of …Phoebe's husband then he must be" she told Rodik in a slightly distracted voice.
"Arturo is a business acquaintance of Coles and a friend of the family " said Paige firmly.
As soon as the door was shut, shaking with cold anger Not-Casper turned on Rodik. "How dare you, " he stormed in righteous wrath "How dare you risk exposing magic, on a whim, on front of a mortal, just for spite. These people have a life outside you, outside magic. They have offered you hospitality and you abuse them and you abuse it."
"Yes Rodik. How dare you?" smirked Paige, .
"Exactly" said Piper smugly "How dare You?" How dare you?"
Rodik took three sniffs to indicate how upset he was. "I tell you there is evil here, demonic power here. I feel it. That was demon., there is great demonic power. Here."
"Exactly where is it here?" asked Not-Casper sarcastically.
Rodik sniffed. "Everywhere" he hissed.
"The little shit can't get it into his head we're on magic nexus" said Phoebe her voice rigid, and both whitelighters glanced at her.
Rodik spate at Angela "You're suppose to be my whitelighter. I tell you there is demon magic in this house. I tell you that Belthezor is consorting with that witch " he roared at her "It is your role to support me and take this to the great powers. Instead you stand there simpering, snivelling away, and let them insult me."
"Rodik you bring the insults on you own head " she sighed " because even if by the remotest chance you were right, that was Belthezor and I don't unbelieve it is, you realise that there is no magic here powerful enough to destroy him and he would have destroyed all of us to protect himself. If it was him, we wouldn't be."
"They're all in with him." Rodik snorted glaring at all three witches. "There is demonic magic in this house" sneered Rodik "You keep saying Belthezor is the key and that evil whore is the attraction. I tell you I see him feel him, and you won't do anything about it.
"I will discuss it with the Elders" said Angela sighing. She started to orb, stopped then apparently changed her mind and orbed. Phoebe did not miss the concern on her tired face.
"I will see you all, and that demon's whore damned " sniffed Rodik " I need to meditate on this."
"Oh shut the fuck up " said Paige and Piper.
"Are you going to lethe talk me like that?" Rodik demanded of Not-Casper .
"I have no control over the Charmed Ones." said Not-Casper as he orbed.
Rodik spun on his heel and stalked for the stairs "I have to meditate" he sniffed.
"Mean old Wodik" said Melissa who still sitting in her pusher was a very interested spectator. She flicker her fingers and Rodik fell hard smacking his face on the stair. He struggled to his feet. glared and tiptoed the rest of the way holding the banister.
"Clever Melinda " said Paige.
"So help me god we are going to get that warlock once and for all and get rid of that little bastard." sighed Piper/.
"You betcha " said Paige while Phoebe glanced behind her at the shadows she saw through the door.
Cole and Arturo stood in the front of the manor. Arturo finally sat on the barrier at the edge of the steps .
Cole sat on one further down looking up at him" What did you come for? " he asked,.
"To tell you I have convinced the Powers That Be of Good to leave you alone. To tell you we can never keep Belthezor's secret, I learnt that with my own secret , so the best defence was to shroud it in so much legend and mythology that very few creatures can unravel it on either side " Arturo answered. " Unfortunately from the conversation I just heard, they haven't convinced their minions."
"Doesn't it just piss you off " Cole asked, crossing his hands in front of him "when with all the power at your disposal, our disposal, you can only make the minions do as they are told if you smite them or bribe them."
Arturo suddenly laughed " I miss the order of the demon hierarchy " he said " do what you are told or die; think what you are told or die. Evil knows how to manage minions."
"There was a certain simplicity to it." Cole agreed. " I thought about disappearing but if the little bastard isn't lying. His aura says he can feel the power, but he's hellishly confused by it. When I use powers quietly it seems to confuse him more," Cole said. "If I go he'll know it's missing and guess where it went."
"Confusion is good" said Arturo "How close are the Charmed Ones to 'getting' Willem. That may be ease the immediacy of the problem."
"They have some 'Great Plan' "Cole answered while Arturo raised his eyes. "I thought of going after Willem myself just to get rid of the bastard. And the Belthezor problem."
"I can feel the spirit winds shudder at the thought, " remarked Arturo.
"Me too, dammit" sighed Cole " seems smiting evil to hide my secret is no more…acceptable than smiting good."
"Then it is well you listen to the wisdom on the winds " Arturo nodded a touch arrogantly.
"I want to kill that bastard retriever" Cole said, and waited for Arturo the tell him off.
"Me too " said Arturo and Cole laughed. "For calling your wife a whore" Arturo asked Cole.
Cole bit his lip " that's the one reason I don't, " he said slowly.
"You trust her. You surely don't believe what he says?" Arturo asked.
"I wish I could say I trusted her." Cole took a deep breath as Arturo bristled "It would be more…honourable. But the truth is I'd know if I could not by her aura, and do you know something,. I want her that badly I'd live with it. Phoebe flirts" he shrugged "Those who don't know her soul can mistake it for the opposite of what it is. I take it you don't make that mistake?" he asked Arturo casually.
"I don't Brother, " said Arturo quietly.
"No, its. I shouldn't….hell. " She's getting broody" Cole said with a wince. "And of course that leads to all the problems of last time." Arturo was silent "Doesn't it? " Cole pushed.
Arturo was silent.
"If it was outside the Great Plan, you would still act wouldn't you?" Cole pushed harder.
"I have a fondness for your wife " Arturo said. "If I acted, would you…act brother." he asked softly, dangerously
"Yes " said Cole just as softly, just as dangerously. "We were lucky with Patsy" Cole said remembering the long wait. And fear of demonic inheritance.
"your wife just told me she had a vision of you as a Guardian ,when she crossed with herself. " Arturo remarked matter of fact because he had the wisdom to back away.
"So " said Cole almost belligerent.
"If I acted because a child of yours was outside the Great Plan, I assume your actions would disqualify you from achieving your calling" said Arturo with a hint of amused arrogance " If what she saw is written, then I would assume you did nothing to… alter your calling " Arturo told him.
Oh " said Cole deflated.
"But I take your point about…a cover story for Good" Arturo mused.
"Oh " said Cole "There are many other reasons why I want to kill the little bastard."
"Me too Brother " said Arturo "But I fear Friend Durand would tell us it is wrong."
"I'm trying to avoid meeting Friend Durand" Cole said. "Leo advises it."
"Leo is learning wisdom" murmured Arturo " Be well Brother " he said.
"Be well Brother" Cole replied.
Arturo glanced at the neighbouring houses to see he was not being watched then he shimmered.
As Piper and Leo were going back to P3 that night, Piper at her family's insistence got some rest that afternoon. Paige having had enough of Rodik and magic went to spend an afternoon at the movies with her friend Lila from South Bay Social services, and to catch up on some of the gossip. She was pleased to find Billy had finally earned his degree and was dating a girl who worked n the local coffee shop, and once sleazy lawyer Donnie had been passed up for promotion again,.
Cole, having missed going out with the children and been roundly told by everyone everything that was going on was his fault, spent some time playing rough house with Melinda and Patsy who screamed the house down as he crawled around the floor with them. Leo trying to read, finally insisted that Cole stirred them up enough, they were both getting grizzly and they were having an afternoon nap. Cole prowled the house some more until Phoebe finally took pity on him and went upstairs found her big quilted coat and his sheepskin jacket and said firmly "Beach Ireland."
He laughed and to make certain Rodik did not pick the power movement when they shimmered, slipped into the drive before Cole shimmered and did not notice the curtain move in the spare room.
It was still dark on their Irish beach, the deserted cove on the western tip of Ireland surround by towering cliffs, where the Atlantic ocean crashed wild and rough on almost pristine sand. They sat on the beach for a while and stared into the darkness, feeling the cold coming off the sea, the spray and the smell of salt water and kemp. Cole put his arm around Phoebe and they huddled together. She felt him shiver. And she giggled suddenly " I don't know why you love the beach so much when you hate the cold so much. You do know you're a contradiction" she said.
"Well I was born a demon and a human." Cole answered said his voice almost a whisper, "Some things I can't change." Without asking they stood up together and walked to the edge of the sea, the sound almost deafening as the spray hit the rocks.
They stepped back just enough to hear each other and listened quietly. " Got my period today" Phoebe told him as she clutched his arms not hiding the disappointment in her voice.
"Damn " he said without thinking. Then he stopped "Oops" he said. She was quiet "Mad at me?" he asked.
"Do you really think I would push you into another kid you didn't want " she asked softly.
"No " he said simply.
They were quiet for a while "No shadows?" he asked "We alone."
"Think I'm just me" Phoebe answered "You just you? "
"Think so " he said "Some things I don't feel like sharing," he said as clutching his arm Phoebe put her head against him, and they listened to the familiar and still exciting sound of the sea."
"I love it here" Phoebe murmured as she let the power of the sea overwhelm her senses.
"Me too " Cole answered almost reverently. "Never used to think much about beaches, once. Now they call me."
"Before you met me." Phoebe half smiled.
"No it started after I cam back from the wasteland " he answered ruefully " I finally figured it out. The feeling you get with the sea and the power and the wind, the way it overwhelms you and somehow or other comforts and exhilarates you. I figured it out " he said. "Beaches, sea in any mood, they're the nearest thing in this realm to the spirit winds "He shrugged "I'm really a spirit creature, not like I was before when I was half mortal. I guess I am just being called back to what I really am."
"Well I'm not a spirit creature and I love it too " Phoebe told him, throwing her head back to the spray fall over her face, even though the cold numbed it. Her hair whipped around in the wind. "I love sharing it with you."
"You like sharing the spirit wind with me " Cole grinned. "And I know why."
"There's a difference between the…. exhilaration I feel shimmering and the one I feel when the spirit winds surround me." Phoebe snipped.
"So orgasmic has two different meanings" Cole asked dryly.
"One has a spiritual sense" Phoebe insisted as he put his lips on hers.
"What sense doe this one have?" he whispered into her mouth.
A few minutes later Phoebe asked, "You changed in the eclipse?" she asked " seen anything you think maybe I shouldn't know. I wondered maybe what you're not telling me."
"Like what you don't want to tell me?" he asked.
"Its not my secret " she said" You understand?"
"Yeah I understand" he sighed " I haven't changed and the time is nearly up." he said in almost a disappointed voice "Guess there's nothing written for me and nothing I have a connection to."
"You're unique" she said loyally. "I think we're doing okay you know."
She knew he was smiling he smile he saved for her, even though the dawn light had still not filtered over the cliffs.
doing okay Cole," Phoebe said, "I mean when you think where we started
we're doing okay."
Cole was woken in the early hours when he heard Melinda crying in the night from a nightmare. As Piper and Leo were still not back from the P3, he got up and after taking her to the bathroom, getting her a drink of water, he stayed sitting with her, until she was breathing comfortably cuddled up to her oldest snugly rabbit toy. He touched her gently and leaving the night light on, went into Piper and Leo's room to check Wyatt who was snoring happily. Cole returned to his and Phoebe's bedroom. He stopped at Whosit's cot, and he to, sleeping on his stomach, regardless of what the books said, was making small whuffling noises.
"You are one contrary kid" he told Whosit, stroking his face " I wonder where you get it from?" he asked, knowing the answer.
Cole went back to bed and lay there.
"What ?"Said Phoebe sleepily.
"Melinda, nightmare " he told her "Go to sleep."
"We're doing okay " she murmured for no reason. "Stop storing memories. Go to sleep,"
"Yes m'am" he said then lay back on the pillow and felt a comfortable drowsiness taking him over, before the familiar haunting fear that this would one day end, and then he suddenly felt himself sucked away on the spirit winds.